Queen greets crowd from Buckingham Palace balcony to cap festivities
In a crowning moment for her Platinum Jubilee, Queen Elizabeth appeared at the balcony of Buckingham Palace Sunday, delighting fans who had hoped to catch a glimpse of her during the final day of festivities marking the monarch's 70 years on the throne.
The 96-year-old monarch has curtailed her schedule in recent months due to problems moving around. Prior to Sunday, the Queen had only appeared in public twice — both on Thursday — during the four-day holiday weekend celebrations. Officials said she experienced "discomfort" during those events.
Thousands of people who massed outside Buckingham Palace for the climax of a boisterous, colourful pageant cheered as the monarch appeared on the balcony with her son and heir, Prince Charles, his wife Camilla, and her eldest grandson Prince William and his family.
The Queen, dressed in bright green, waved and smiled after the crowds belted out God Save The Queen. Her appearance, which only lasted a few minutes, was followed by a crowd-pleasing performance of ABBA's Dancing Queen.
It was an uplifting finale to a massive street pageant celebrating the Queen's life and highlighting Britain's diversity. Thousands of people turned out on the streets of London, many speaking with excitement and pride about their Queen and country.
Afterward, the monarch issued a statement thanking all those who celebrated her Platinum Jubilee.
"When it comes to how to mark 70 years as your Queen, there is no guidebook to follow. It really is a first," she said. "But I have been humbled and deeply touched that so many people have taken to the streets to celebrate my Platinum Jubilee.
"While I may not have attended every event in person, my heart has been with you all; and I remain committed to serving you to the best of my ability, supported by my family."
Sunday's pageant began with a spectacular military parade featuring 200 horses marching down the Mall to Buckingham Palace. They flanked the Gold State Coach, a gilded carriage that transported the Queen on the day of her coronation. A virtual version of her, drawn from archival video from her 1953 coronation, was shown at the coach's windows.
After the pomp and pageantry came a melange of acts celebrating the diversity of modern Britain and the Commonwealth, from hip hop and Bollywood dancers to drag queens and Mardi Gras style floats.
Some 6,000 performers paraded along a three-kilometre route lined with a sea of Union flags, telling the story of the Queen's life with dance, vintage cars, vibrant costumes, carnival music and giant puppets.
Some of Britain's best-loved cultural exports were there, from the Daleks in Doctor Who to James Bond's sleek Aston Martins. Celebrities including singer Cliff Richard danced and sang from open-top double-decker buses designed to represent the sights and sounds of each decade, beginning with the 1950s.
"It's a massive honour to be part of this. We've got the best queen in the world, don't we? Best country in the world," said Warren Jobson, a biker who took part in the parade.
The pageant was watched by an estimated one billion people around the world, organizers say.
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